Coming up in the month of June is a rare astronomical event. The second planet to the sun, Venus, will pass between us, and the sun. Venus transits have a strange pattern of 121.5, 8, 105.5, 8 years, and the one prior to the transit in June of 2004 was 121.5 years ago in 1882. The next pair of transits wont happen again for another 105.5 years, so this will be the last chance any currently living human get’s to witness this event.
The reason transits don’t happen more frequently is due to the orbits of Venus and Earth not being on the same plane. Venus’ orbit is slightly inclined to the orbit of Earth, so when Venus passes between Earth and the Sun every 1.6 years Venus is either slightly above or below the Sun.
On June 5th Venus will begin it’s transit across the sun at 6:03pm EDT.
The Adirondack Public Observatory is hosting two free events surrounding the Venus transit.
On June 4th 7:00pm-8:00pm there will be a lecture given at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake (map), hosted by Aileen O’Donoghue, Priest Associate Professor of Physics at St. Lawrence University, and APO board member. She will be discussing what the transit is, and why it is important.
On June 5th is the transit of Venus starting from 5:00 pm until sunset. Telescopes, including my 6in. Reflector will be setup at Little Wolf Beach in Tupper Lake (map) to safely watch the transit until sunset. The APO will also be projecting the transit of Venus via NASA’s live video in the Flammer Theater of the Wild Center. Doing so will allow you to continue viewing the transit even after sunset, and will serve as an alternative if the sky is too cloudy for viewing the event.
I personally am looking forward to the transit of Venus, and I hope others can make their way there to witness this rare event take place. Also with any luck we may have some sunspots littering the sun during viewing as an added bonus. Let’s hope for beautiful clear skies on June 5th for this event. Remember to always practice proper safety when viewing the sun.
Photos: Above, Venus transiting the Sun in 2004 via Wikipedia.